A fire at an old, vacant farmhouse in Jamestown closed part of Highway 108 for several hours Friday night. The Union Democrat in Sonora identified the historic home as once being owned by a survivor of the Donner party.
Tuolumne County sheriff’s and Cal Fire firefighters were called to the scene of a structure fire on the 17400 block of Highway 108 in the 9 p.m. hour Friday. The two-story farmhouse was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The house is across the street from the historic Hurst Ranch in Jamestown.
Traffic on Highway 108 was closed from High School Road to Bell Mooney Road for about three hours as crews worked to contain and mop up the fire. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Union Democrat said the house was built by mine owner John App for his bride, Leanna Donner, who was a child when the pioneer group got stuck in a snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada in 1846.
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“They lacked proper housing and provisions to make it through the winter,” the Union Democrat article says. “More than half of the 87 people in the party died, and some survivors in desperation resorted to cannibalism.”